Accepted Paper:

Evaluation of the socioeconomic in conflict-laden governance contexts: Radioactive waste disposal in France  


Markku Lehtonen (√©cole des Hautes √Čtudes en Sciences Sociales / ESSEC Business School)

Paper long abstract:

After a long and conflict-ridden history of failed attempts to identify a community to host a deep geological repository for the country's high- and medium-level radioactive waste, the French authorities have designated a small village in a rural, sparsely populated and economically declining region as a host for the repository. The construction of the repository is to start in 2017, and the facility would become operational in 2025. This complex and contested "megaproject" promises to bring considerable socio-economic benefits to an economically suffering region, yet it also generates significant health, environmental, and socio-economic concerns.

This paper examines conflicts through the perspective of a specific governance tool, namely the ex ante and ex post evaluation of the socio-economic aspects of the project. The paper identifies the potential and the pitfalls of such evaluation in a highly conflict-ridden policy context characterised by strong mistrust and widespread reticence towards evaluation. The paper is based on fieldwork concerning the actor "repertoires" - dominant ways of thinking and acting, embedded in and governed by the institutionalised norms, practices, technologies, and rules of key actors in the governance of the project. Results from fieldwork on radioactive waste disposal projects in Finland, Sweden, and the UK are used as comparative examples to illustrate the articulation between the country-specific governance context and the repertoires in shaping the conditions for socio-economic evaluation.

Panel L4
Energy controversies and technology conflicts